Riddle me, ree: What is mostly made up of foreigners, stinks of encased meat and drunk all over? If you didn’t guess Oktoberfest then you’re clearly not drunk at all. My pals and I stood out in the pouring rain (as if rain does anything else) to try and get into the Paulaner beer tent. Alas, we didn’t make it and were relegated to the surrounding outdoor beer gardens. But eventually, the sun came out and so did the beer and all was OK.
I’m not going to bore you too much with ditties about debauchery which everyone who attends the festival comes home with. Unless you want me to. But like most alcohol-soaked outings, the body can only take so much poison until it begins to cry out for sustenance.
One by one, my travel mates had left me. It was about 7:30 in the evening and we had been drinking all damn day. By about mid afternoon, JosWay had declared himself too drunk to function and went back to our hotel. RoomNate and Wilse had found themselves a couple of dirndl-ed damsels and disappeared with them outside of the festival. I was left to stumble around the carnival grounds alone. My stomach growling ever louder, I eventually wandered outside the main gate and into Munich itself.
When drunk, Munich resembles almost every other city; a collection of blurred storefronts and bright, out-of-focus traffic lights. After meandering for awhile, I saw it: a glistening beacon in a window across the street. It was a doner kebab, that Turkish missile of shaved lamb slowly roasting in front of a heating element. I was helplessly drawn in that direction and found myself standing in front of a counter volunteering my stomach as a new homeland for some of that succulent lamb. With my no doubt charmingly slurred speech, I ordered a doner kebab sandwich and tried to converse with a couple of young ravers.
Not more than fifteen minutes after inhaling that sandwich, I found myself sitting in another brightly-lit short-order Turkish restaurant with more Turkish food in front of me. Obviously, there was a theme that evening. That isn’t to say that Turkish restaurants were hard to find. This was Germany, after all, home to the largest Turkish population in the world outside of the motherland itself. Hence, going out for Turkish there was just as commonplace as a Brit ordering a curry at a pub in London.
Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can resist pide (pictured above). Similar to a pizza, it is a soft, chewy, fresh-baked bread, topped with either herbs, eggplant, ground meat or cheese. In Turkey and in Turkish northern Cyprus, you can find versions with a raw egg cracked on top right after being pulled out of the oven. In fact, the word ‘pide’ is a Turkish derivation of ‘pita’, itself a Western derivation of the flatbread ubiquitous throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Pide can be thought of as a reverse pita with all the fillings on the outside as pide have no pockets.
I could have used deeper pockets myself that evening. I had gone through Euro almost as fast as I had gone through the very authentic — and tooth-achingly rich — Turkish desserts that followed my meal. But as I lay crumpled on my hotel bed and despite ingesting enough hops to qualify for a farm subsidy, I had no regrets about dropping dough on that addictive pide dough. Short of an actual sponge, nothing could have softened that evening’s excesses any better.
WHAT: cheese pide
WHEN: September 25, 2010
WHERE: A Turkish restaurant in Munich, Bavaria, Germany